Harare: From Sunshine City to a wasteland

We were intrigued by Oliver Chidawu’s claim that “Harare has improved since my days as mayor in the early 1980s”.

The MuckRaker

He was speaking at a meeting of former mayors to meet the new incumbent, Bernard Manyenyeni and assist him in his duties.
Five former mayors were present. They included the city’s first black mayor, Tizirayi Gwata, Chidawu, Jabulani Thembani, Elias Mudzuri and Muchadeyi Masunda.

The claim that there has been an improvement in Harare’s condition since the early 1980s will elicit a wry chuckle from many readers who have observed the steady deterioration in the city’s fortunes since 1980. The Sunshine City was transformed into a wasteland by some of the incumbents over the years.

The mayoress’ chain
And does anybody remember the disappearing chain and regalia of one mayoress which were never recovered?

“We will assist you in any way possible with our experience,” Thembani told Manyenyeni.

That could be a rather worrying statement!

Everybody spies
Angela Merkel has sent two German spy chiefs to Washington, we are told. The Germans want assurances that spying by the Americans will stop.

We can’t imagine any country admitting it was spying in the first place. But as just about every observer has pointed out, everybody spies on everybody else in Europe and the US. And most espionage nowadays is aimed at economic and business targets, not Cold War fights.

Merkel makes an easy target because she is never off her mobile and doesn’t bother to encrypt her calls. So the signal is frequent, loud and clear.

What she needs is the operation all journalists must have: to remove the phone from the ear!

Which is which?
Muckraker would welcome clarification on the following matter. Is the Information ministry called the Information, Media and Broadcasting Services ministry, or the Media, Information and Broadcasting Services ministry?

Nobody seems to know and it changes several times a day in the press! Muckraker’s guess is that Webster Shamu preferred “Media” first and Jonathan Moyo prefers “Information” first. Is there any significance in this?

Mahoso’s praise
Zimbabwe Media Commission CEO Tafataona Mahoso wrote last week in praise of Singapore and its educational system. It is not difficult to find merit in Singapore and its former prime minister (not president) Lee Kuan Yew who modernised this once backward island state and handed it on to a new generation in fine condition. It is now a base for trade, banking and manufacturing in the Far East.

Mahoso wants to diminish the use of English in exams. But English in Singapore has provided the glue that binds Malays and Chinese. Indeed, Singaporeans celebrate their colonial founder Sir Stamford Raffles and his statue presides over the city centre. Singapore Airlines, one of the most highly regarded airlines in the world, symbolises the country’s development.

Singapore is a tourist magnet. In fact, it is everything Zimbabwe is not. It has pulled itself up by its bootstraps and prospered.

Correction
Next a correction. Last week we referred to Mamphela Ramphele’s party in South Africa as Agape. That should be Agang. Sorry for that.
Black sheep

We hear Kwekwe mayor Matenda Madzoke turned down a US$68 000 vehicle offer. NewsDay reported this week that the local authority wanted to purchase a brand new mayoral 4×4 Isuzu D-Tec for him, but he instead instructed council to use the US$38 000 which had already been paid for the vehicle to acquire a refuse removal tractor or truck.

Looks like we have a black sheep in the family here? While corruption and looting is the norm in local authorities, it is absolutely surprising to have one going against the grain.

Thumbs up to Madzoke for showing your Zanu PF colleagues what service delivery is all about. Madzoke recently said he wants to make peace with Kwekwe residents and pledged to bring transparency and accountability in the dealings of the local authority while weeding out corruption and he has turned out to be keen on keeping his word. We challenge the others to follow suit.

Jabu at it again
Matabeleland South Zanu PF deputy spokesperson, Jabulani Phetshu Sibanda, is at it again. Sibanda postulates that “Zimbabwe would collapse if any other party came to power. Zanu PF wants to rule forever. It is the only party that liberated Zimbabwe …”.

If the looting, corruption, rampant mismanagement in state-run enterprises are any indicators to go by, then the concept of liberation has completely escaped Sibanda. Lest the comrade forgets, Ian Smith said: “Not in a thousand years to black majority rule.” Or was this before your time as was the liberation struggle. Nobody has a mandate — God-given or man-endowed — to rule forever.

Opening up airwaves
GOVERNMENT will do away with pirate radio stations through opening up airwaves, a situation that would render them redundant, according to Information deputy minister Supa Mandiwanzira.

According to the Herald the deputy minister told Senate that people were made to listen to pirate radio stations because of the failure by Transmedia to provide legitimate radio and television broadcasting content throughout the country.

We thought it had to do with a surfeit of propaganda on ZBC, thinly veiled as news, the repeated screening of programmes that should be in a museum somewhere, the dearth of an alternative voice and the fact that the broadcaster was a de facto mouthpiece for the ruling Zanu PF party. All this for an annual fee of US$20 for radio and US$50 for TV for domestic users.

Nuisance
Apparently not, according to Supa.
Responding to a question from Mashonaland Central Senator Alice Chimbudzi on what government was doing to deal with private radio stations, he said: “The ministry considers these pirate radio stations as a nuisance that we must get rid of. In the majority of cases, the Zimbabweans who listen to these pirate radio stations do so out of desperation because they are unable to get a signal from the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation in the area they stay. So they have no choice and end up, by default, listening to these pirate radio stations.”

This explanation is rather disingenous. Why then did Zanu PF ban shortwave radio receivers, accusing them of pushing the regime change agenda? And why, after 33 years of independence, do we only have a single state-owned TV station? Mandiwanzira also said his ministry had a fresh impetus to roll out transmitters through Transmedia across the country to enable everyone to get a signal from ZBC radio and television and other legitimate broadcasting institutions. The roll-out would be achieved through digitalisation of Transmedia from analogue, a project that he said required US$30 million to cover the whole country.

Supa sees the light
No one should hold their breath as the immediate challenge is the parlous state of ZBC where staff are going for months without pay and the antiquated equipment is causing all sorts of deeply embarrassing gaffes, including sudden transmission breakdowns, strange noises and weird shapes appearing on the screen even during the error-strewn transmission of the main news bulletin.

But we are happy that Supa appears to have seen the light despite his clumsy pretensions at denial.

Professionalism out
WE expected the state media to go into overdrive over President Jacob Zuma’s comments that Africans should not “think like Africans in Africa generally, we’re in Johannesburg”.

And we were not disappointed.

On Monday night’s Mediawatch programme on ZBC-TV, presenter Justin Mahlahla interviewed Zanu PF appendage Tafataona Mahoso and the questions left no one in any doubt what Mahoso’s response would be.
Asked Mahlahla: “Who should tell President Zuma to zip his mouth?” seemingly frothing at the mouth himself. This demonstrates that professionalism at Pockets Hill has well and truly gone to the dogs!